Former Rockville Mayor Viola D. Hovsepian charged this week that the city's new mayor, Steven Van Grack, violated the city charter by soliciting support from the Democratic Party in last week's nonpartisan election.

A statement released this week by Hovsepian's husband, former Rockville mayor Dickran Y. Hovsepian, charged that Van Grack solicited "funds and assistance . . . not only from city Democratic people, but also from the county and state."

He cited an October newsletter put out by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee that gave notice of a fundraiser Oct. 6 for Van Grack. The committee later said it had erred in including the announcement.

The city charter states that local elections must be nonpartisan.

"I am disturbed by the fact that Van Grack tried to use the Democratic Party to bring about his election," Viola Hovsepian said. "I do not know how much effect it had on the outcome, but I am disturbed by that."

Van Grack, who in the past decade has worked as a campaign manager for both the Montgomery County Democrats and the Committee to Elect the Sitting Judges, said Tuesday: "I haven't seen the letter yet but I deny that I sought any funds in any way from the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, and I deny that we sought assistance from the committee."

The county Democratic Central Committee, in an Oct. 25 release, stated that it "reaffirms its neutrality in all non-partisan municipal elections. We . . . sincerely regret our error in listing a notice of a candidate's fundraiser in our recent newsletter."

The Hovsepians also cited a letter recently circulated to Rockville residents west of I-270, where Ritchie Park Elementary School is located, describing a county proposal to transfer Ritchie Park students to the Julius West Junior High-Richard Montgomery High School cluster and citing Van Grack's stand on the issue.

The letter, signed by Montgomery County Republican Chairman John Saveland and assistant Democratic chairman Eva Simmons, states that of the three Rockville mayoral candidates, "only Van Grack has come out unequivocally against school boundary changes."

"Candidate Van Grack was not the only mayoral candidate who came out against school boundary changes," the Hovsepians wrote. "Mayor Hovsepian stated this position consistently during the campaign."


Barnesville Town Commission, 8 p.m. Monday, 17925 Barnesville Road.

Gaithersburg City Council, 7:30 p.m. Monday, City Hall, 31 S. Summit Ave.

Poolesville Town Commission, 8 p.m. Monday, Town Hall, Elgin Road and Fisher Avenue.